When I watched the Columbus Crew take on the Philadelphia Union last week in Columbus (Yeah, I was there. It was awesome because admit it, Crew Stadium rocks), I have to admit, the Crew were pretty sluggish looking. They were coming off a bye week, which always personally makes me a tad nervous because I never know how the team is going to play coming back from a week off.
But that’s a moot point now. They were a tad sluggish, Ben Speas had a rough game, Federico Higuain was pretty much shut down… but Dominic Oduro had a crazy goal from a wicked angle that would save the Crew and help them draw the Union 1-1.
So, when the Crew traveled to Montreal to take on the Impact this weekend, I was hoping for a bit more of the Crew I had seen before the bye week. Especially against Montreal, who are currently leading the Eastern Conference.
The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, but heavy snowfall forced the game to be postponed to Sunday. A lot of focus had been put on this snow, like it would be an advantage for Montreal. I don’t know what some people were thinking with that – I mean, Columbus has its fair share of snow. But anyway, the pitch was cleared and the game started Sunday as scheduled.
This game was the first of two road trips for the Crew – next week the Black and Gold will head to rivals Chicago Fire’s stadium. Road games have been fairly kind to Columbus thus far this season; it’s the home matches they haven’t been able to put their thumbs on.
I will say this for the Crew – they definitely seemed snappier and more lively in the beginning of this game. But it was Montreal who had their act together for the majority of the half. The Crew’s trouble to keep the ball was still evident even though statistically they had more shots than the Impact. However, as the first half wound down, the Crew finally settled a bit and started to put effective pressure on the back line of the Impact. Montreal’s keeper Troy Perkins even had to make a couple of lively saves.
The second half though was where this game was at. Montreal came out looking far more lethal in the opening minutes of the half than Columbus did. But the Crew backline – which have proven to be stronger this season than in the recent past – were able to shut down the chances.
Still, it would be Montreal that would strike first, shortly after a goal notched by Marco Di Vaio was called back for being offside. It was a close call, in my opinion. He might have been slightly off side, but in the replay it was very close. However, Di Vaio would get his goal five minutes later with a heck of a strike. Montreal had some confidence after that, but it wasn’t to last.
Minutes later, Columbus answered in the form of Dominic Oduro. Josh Williams hit in a cross, which took a knock from a Montreal player. What was great about it from there was that Oduro got a fantastic first touch on the ball with his right foot, which settled the ball enough for him to hit his own amazing swinging shot with his left foot. The ball was buried in the corner and the teams were level again.
The rest of the match was typical back and forth, and a bit chippy as both teams were clearly going for the win. But it would end 1-1 and thankfully, the Crew were able to steal points from the conference leaders.
Overall, I was generally happy with the Crew’s performance this week. It was a definite improvement from the showdown against the Union and I feel pretty confident as they go into preparations to face Chicago. The one thing that still bugs me thus far about Columbus this season is holding the ball in the midfield.
We’ve seen what Higuain, Arrieta and Oduro can do on the offense and we’ve seen Williams, Chad Marshall, Viana, Tyson Wahl and Glauber pull together to make a fairly solid defense. It’s the midfield however that has me frustrated. The Crew can’t seem to get the ball and hold it. There were a few times during the Sunday match up that Columbus looked strong and were able to quickly move the ball through the midfield and toward goal. However, if they were forced to slow down or were ganged up on in the mid, they would lose the ball easily. Oh, and Ben Speas… man, what is going on? Against DC United, he was amazing and on point. The past two weeks though, he seems a bit out of focus.
Against Chicago, I hope the Crew can get more possession and that midfield gets it together to help feed in balls to Higuain, who can then feed them into Oduro or Arrieta. Once they get that set, I believe the Crew will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.
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